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Overseas shipping in the Caribbean

Aug 3, 2008
Christopher Columbus, as you'll read in most history books, is widely credited to be the man who discovered America. The reality is that he discovered the Caribbean and the West Indies. He never actually landed on the continent of North America. His three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, were the first overseas shipping vessels to make the passage from Europe to the Western Hemisphere. They were also the first to sail across the sea that would become the subject of songs, myths and legends in the years that would follow.

The Pirates of the Caribbean is a popular series of movies starring Johnny Depp that glorifies the days of sailing ships and swashbuckling adventurers. The 18th and 19th Centuries in the Caribbean were a dangerous time for overseas shipping and the captains and crews of the ships that attempted it were a breed that is rarely seen today. Many ships were attacked and sunk in the cerulean blue waters that separate South America from the Gulf of Mexico.

During the early colonization of the United States and other nations in North and South America the Caribbean was a battleground between English, Spanish and French vessels that were fighting for control of the overseas shipping routes back to Europe. Each of these nations hired privateers to assist their warships in the control of the Caribbean. Privateers were pirates who chose to fly the flag of the nations that they represented if the situation called for it. Most of them were no better than the pirates they competed against for the plunder of merchant vessels attempting to transport to and from the fledgling countries of the New World.

During the war of 1812, overseas shipping across the Caribbean came to a virtual standstill. The British Empire, after losing the American Revolution twenty years earlier, used their superior naval power to shut down overseas shipping routes and blockade the harbors that provided supplies to the U.S. Ironically, it was the same privateers that had terrorized overseas shipping in the Caribbean who eventually helped break the blockade. Many of them, having suffered greatly at the hands of the British, chose to side with America and tipped the balance in their favor.

Overseas shipping in the Caribbean today is a much more peaceful affair. Pirates have faded into history and the British and Americans are now allies and partners in international trade. Waters that were once stained red with the blood of innocents are now a tropical paradise that millions of people from around the world visit every year. Jamaica, once the home of the British fleet in the Caribbean, now stands as the capitol city of an independent nation. Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are all tourist destinations and have some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever find. The sound of cannon fire and steel against steel is not heard in the Caribbean anymore but every now and then merchants see things that have no rational explanation.
About the Author
Nir Dotan is a writer and promoter of
Overseas Shipping services,
Omega Shipping
Local as well as International Moving.
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